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20 Iyar 5762 - May 2, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Daas Torah of Maran HaRav Eliashiv on the Reform Movement as Transmitted by HaRav Yosef Efrati
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The following remarks were delivered by HaRav Yosef Efrati at the recent emergency meeting about the attempts of Reform Jews to acquire influence in the Yerushalayim school system.

I have been asked by the members of Vaad HaRabbonim to present before this important forum Maran Rav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv's opinion regarding the battle against turning over the oversight of schools in the holy city of Jerusalem to a heretical sect known as Reform.

In order to understand the need to wage such a battle, we must reiterate what the Reform movement is and the means whereby this sect brought about a spiritual holocaust in the homes of millions of our brethren.

Reform Jews are not merely porkei ol, i.e. secularists who fail to observe the mitzvos. The root word chilon means "lacking" and according to the Chazon Ish's famous description, chiloniut ["secularism"] is essentially an "empty wagon." Therefore when an awakening takes place besiyata deShmaya out of the embers and ashes of this empty wagon--a yearning for ruchniyus--one can find his way to Yiddishkeit, and that yearning will be expressed through the mitzvos.

Yet Reform is a different sect. He who joins them becomes a member of a religious sect that imposes no obligations, a religion whose laws are annually reformulated at conferences, and whose ostensible spiritual tasks change at will just as chameleons change their skin color based on the needs of the immediate environment. In Germany Reform Jews deleted from books they called "siddurim" all mention of Tzion and Jerusalem, and in the United States many of their leaders who call themselves "rabbonim" have permitted mixed marriages.

In every given period they respond to the desires of the day. In Germany their leaders believed they would be able to become integrated among the goyim by removing their ties to Tzion, and in the United States they hoped to achieve the same goal by removing their ties to the Jewish people and by lending a hand to assimilation.

Thus one who falls into this sect is not riding in an empty wagon, for he has joined a sect that is a false imitation of Judaism. He is a poreik ol and only pretends to be religious. Because he has removed himself from the klal, he denies the foundations of Judaism.

When this battle began gedolei Yisroel established a position like that detailed in a responsum by the Chasam Sofer (VI:85): "They should be driven from our midst and their communities are like the communities of the Sadducees, Baitus, Onon and Shaul."

An examination of statements made by the poskim in Eileh Divrei Habris, a compilation of responsa by gedolei Yisroel on the subject, shows that Reform Jews are characterized: "They are not Jews and not goyim." The Maharam Shik even characterized them as goyim in all respects.

When former Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank heard they planned to establish a foothold in the Holy City, he had good reason for saying, "In my opinion a large rabbinical conference must be arranged to make ready to confront this evil from the outset and to declare that it be kept away from kahal Hashem for all eternity, because this monster is worse than all of the various types of secularists (chilonim), for through their activities they [i.e. Reform] bring chaos and confusion into the world and increase the power of the Sitra Achra."

Having clarified already well-known facts on Reform Jews and the Reform movement, we turn to an analysis of the elements of the current struggle.

I will present three crimes contained in the agreement, and not comment further on the fourth. (after Amos chapter 1)

A. The Breaches. This is the modus operandi of yetzer hora. The Reform want to gain a foothold in all areas of Judaism and to establish positions in the king's palace. It began with their attempt to enter the Religious Council. What need do they see in this? Do they lack eruvin? Is kosher food their desire and are mikvo'os their top priority? Their main goal is to destroy the walls of Jerusalem. After beginning in the public sector they turn to education in an effort to take part in municipal education. Agreeing to bring them into the field of education would represent a breach, and we must stand firm like a fortified wall. Too many breaches have already been made in the walls of Jerusalem. Cease.

B. The Content. But the second crime--the content of the agreement--is a graver one. Incorporating the Reform in the education of Jewish children would mean allowing this heretical sect to assume control of the education of children who have been "kidnapped" by a Reform Moloch, i.e. missionary schools for the Reform religion. How must we be disgraced and what will we answer on Judgment Day when we see our brothers and sisters, tinokos shenishbu, about whom the Chazon Ish zt'l said we are commanded to "return them with cords of love and to bring them to the light to the best of our ability?"

Instead they are given over to another sect and are led down a path of no return to be severed from every trace of Yiddishkeit.

I want to make it clear by an analogy: There are some among the poskei hador who hold that a man married to a non- Jewish woman severs himself completely from the klal while a Shabbos desecrater Rachmono litzlan has a different [more lenient] din in many cases. Even though the halocho states that a mumar lechalel Shabbos is a mumar lekol haTorah kuloh, yet today he is not considered to have severed himself from the klal entirely. A few threads still connect him to klal Yisroel even if he is a mechalel Shabbos. Whereas a man married to a non-Jew has severed himself completely. And according to these opinions this difference has several consequences lehalochoh in which one who has intermarried is worse than a mechalel Shabbos.

Our hearts are torn by the education Jewish children receive at state schools. We are distraught over an education devoid of Torah and mitzvos. But, as we explained above, at least this type of education strengthens ties to an empty wagon, producing a mumar letei'ovon. Yet Reform education severs [children] from the klal entirely. Thus it resembles marrying a non-Jewish woman, "the daughter of an alien G-d."

C. The Means -- The third crime is not just that Reform parents aim to set up defective schools for their children independent of the state system, lehavdil like the chareidi model; rather this agreement would transform regular, local municipal schools, which provide a state-run education to children from traditional families as well, along with several local junior high schools, transforming the standard local education in these neighborhoods to Reform education, Hashem yerachem!

Considering the failure of secular education and the need to infuse spiritual content in order to raise the standards of education, they are likely to provide a spurious substitute that, based on the current situation, could have untold consequences.

And I will not comment on the fourth--that we have an outright war for Hashem against this heretical sect all over.

Sadly the message that is now going out from Jerusalem, based on the well-known saying: laxity in Torah in Vilna means shmad in Berlin. Faintheartedness in the battle against this heretical sect in Jerusalem could further weaken already tested Jews.

If in a holy place like Jerusalem--where half of the city's council declare that they are shomrei Torah umitzvos-- heretical education is legitimized, why wage war against it in distant communities across the country? If Jerusalem permits the way of Rome and Berlin to gain access, how will the Jews of Berlin be able to fight it? When gedolei Yisroel have been waging an extensive campaign to isolate and distance themselves from this evil, how can Jerusalem allow them to draw near?

Allow me to finish with an appeal to the mayor: In Shofetim Ehud comes to Eglon and says, "Devar Elokim li eilecho vayokom mei'al hakisei" (3:20), and in maseches Sanhedrin Chazal learn a kal vochomer for all of us to stand up.

We, too, turn to you, Mr. Ehud Olmert, and ask you, devar Elokim lonu eilecho, remove this decree from Jerusalem. We entreat you, get up from your seat and join us in keeping this decree out of Jerusalem.


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